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whites, and takes no account of the long list of
aggressions against the natives in violation of the
spirit of the treaty if not of its letter. The great
cause of that bloody war was the tendency on the
part of the colonists to treat the Indians as a sub-
ject race to whom they owed no duty, who were in
their way, and whom they were at liberty to annoy
constantly in every conceivable manner. If they
had set out with a determination to arouse the na-
tives to declare v/ar, in order that they might use
the hostilities thus begun as an excuse for exter-
minating them, they could not have succeeded more
admirably. When we consider the wonderful sa-
gacity, the political wisdom of Massasoit's move in
seeking to establish friendly relations with the
invaders of his soil and to pave the way for the
two races to live side by side in peace and harmony,
instead of sounding the alarm and calling his trusty
warriors about him to expel the foreign foe, we can-
not fail to be impressed with his foresight, based, as



MASSASOIT 93

it was, upon his knowledge of men in a wild and
natural state, and unacquainted with the arts and
wiles of civilization. That his judgment was in
error, and his confidence misplaced was no fault of
his, but the misfortune of his people. Had the
colonists shown half the regard for the spirit of the
treaty they made with him, and for the obligations
they thereby assumed towards him and his, that he
manifested during the forty years of his life after its
signing, what a different story would the annals of
New England tell today. It is almost enough to
bring the blush of shame to the white man's cheek
to recount the story of colonial perfidy towards the
friendly Wampanoags and Narragansetts, once the
story is stripped of the cant with which it has been
decked out and which we have been too accustomed
to regard as religious zeal.

Zealots the Pilgrims were, reUgious fanatics, rival-
ing the janizaries of the Moslem world, seeking a
place where they might enjoy religious freedom and
celebrating their success by denying to others the
freedom they sought to establish for themselves.
They allowed no fine scruples of decency and honor
to stand in the way of spurring on to their death a
race that seemed to them to be an impediment to
their material progress. They converted what they
could by preaching the word, and stopped at no
savage cruelty to wipe out what they could not
convert. Their most eminent divines exulted over
the defeat of the men who had been their friends,
but whom they had betrayed so often that their
friendship had been turned to hostility. The chil-



94 MASSASOIT

dren of the forest, following the strongest instinct in
the human breast, and fighting for their own preser-
vation and the protection of home and fireside, were
ruthlessly slaughtered by the men between whom
and annihilation they had interposed their naked
breasts, and whose priests boasted of the number of
souls they ''sent to hell" in some battle brought on
by their treatment of the men to whom they had
allied themselves by the most solemn ties. Cant
and hypocrisy have ever gone hand in hand with
excessive religious zeal, and the preachers of New
England furnished, not an exception to the rule, but
its most striking example. They preached the word
of God and pretended to be followers of the humble
Nazarene; but practiced the wiles of the devil; and
rivaled him in their satanic exultation over the fate
of the foes they made by their diabolical practices.
There was bound to be a conflict between Euro-
pean and Indian methods of living. The two could
not co-exist on the same soil. The two races could
not long live side by side except by one of them
conforming to the mode of life of the other. It
was inevitable that the country must be all savage
or all civilized; but there was no danger to Euro-
pean ideals and civilization in trying the experiment
of leavening the whole lump. The Indians of east-
ern Massachusetts and Rhode Island had shown
sufficient intelligence and sufficient interest in Eng-
lish customs and manners of living to warrant a
hope for a complete reclamation of the race. True
civilization is not of such a quality or character
that it is in danger of being lost by extending it to



MASSASOIT 95

cover a broader field than has been its wont. It is
a condition that is strengthened and invigorated by-
propagation and extension. It was no more in dan-
ger of extinction in the wilds of New England by-
bringing the natives within its enlightening influ-
ence, than is the light of the sun of being extin-
guished by turning it into hitherto unexplored
regions of darkness.

The Pilgrims brought with them the seed from
which, by careful culture, has developed our civil
and religious liberty. They planted and nourished
it here, even though they were themselves as in-
tolerant of others as were those from whom they
fled, of them. It is characteristic of freedom that
it grows and flourishes under adversity. The
greater the opposition, the stronger the growth,
even though temporarily checked by the heavy-
hand of oppression; and it is unfortunate that the
founders of our liberties should have considered it
necessary to water the seed they planted with the
blood of nature's freemen.

The liberty that cannot flourish without enslav-
ing another is not worth preserving, and the Ameri-
can people through long years of toil and suffering
learned this great truth; and, out of the limited
freedom established by the colonies, evolved the
only true freedom, to move unfettered and un-
trammelled as far as can be done without interfer-
ence with the equal liberty of another. If the early
settlers on these shores had recognized this eternal
truth, instead of leaving it to their posterity to
evolve as the true foundation of right and justice.



96 MASSASOIT

the story of their injustice would never have been
told. But all human progress is slow; and as man
cannot, by a single bound, reach the mountain top,
so a race cannot at once spring from darkness into
perfect light.

I would not detract from the stern virtues of the
men who laid the foundations of our free institu-
tions, the planters who labored early and late that
we might reap for generations in greater measure
than was vouchsafed to them; but, remembering
that it is easier to sail a charted sea than to thread
one's way among the rocks and shoals of an un-
known coast, we may still be permitted a measure
of criticism of the methods they adopted for the ac-
comphshment of their purpose. Looking back upon
the scenes of the long ago, one knows not which
most to admire, the pertinacity with which the
Christian English clung to the establishment of their
ideals, which, illuminated by the ever increasing
light of intellectual freedom, have become our
ideals; or that of the pagan Indian, who, finding
that his liberty was being gradually swallowed up
in that which he had helped the English to estab-
lish upon his lands, turned at bay and attempted to
break the fetters which the English liberty was
forging for him and his.

The results of the coming of the Pilgrim fathers
have been told in song and story; they have been
heralded wherever the voice of men is heard; they
have been taught to lisping children at their
mothers' knee, and have been the theme of poets
and the realization of the dream of philosophers.



MASSASOIT 97

I would not gainsay them if I could; I would not
turn back the wheels of human progress; I would
not dim the lustre of one ray from the torch of
liberty our fathers lighted, and which has burned
brighter with each succeeding generation until its
rays have penetrated the uttermost parts of the
earth; but without detracting from the accom-
plishments of the mighty men of the past, I would
do honor to the valiant race which, seeing its liber-
ties endangered by the encroachments of the men
whom it had welcomed, sprang to arms for the
defence of their freedom, with a zeal that has won
our commendation wherever displayed by civilized
peoples from Marathon to the Argonne. I would
pause in the contemplation of the glories of the
past, long enough to deposit a wreath of earth's
fairest blossoms upon the places where lie buried the
hopes and aspirations of the noblest race of savages
the world has ever seen. I would turn aside to look
upon Sachem's Plain and Mount Hope with a feel-
ing of regret that the men who fell there could not
have devoted their God given energy to the accom-
plishment of their dreams of living with their white
brethren in peace and harmony. A race that could
produce a Massasoit is not all bad, and it is a mis-
fortune to the world that the good that was in it
could not have developed side by side with the
good that our fathers had inherited from the
memories of a thousand years of upward strug-
gling towards the light.

The hand of Destiny that planted the seeds of
Freedom for you and me, under the erring guidance



98 MASSASOIT

of those who controlled it for their own benefit,
sowed the seeds of death and extermination for the
simple natives, who seemed to the blind, unreason-
ing, or cold, calculating men of darker days to
block the wheels of their progress. With no other
right than that of might, they swept away the
last vestige of a once proud and powerful people,
preeminent among whom, as indeed preeminent
among all men of all races and of all time, stands
the man to whose memory these lines are dedicated,
Massasoit the Great Sachem of the Wampanoags.
We have already considered the probable numerical
strength of the Pokanokets and, in a general way,
that of the federated tribes, calling particular at-
tention to the Pocassets and Nausets about whom
something fairly definite is known; and it is not
my purpose to make further comment upon that
subject except as it may be necessary to emphasize
or illustrate some other matter that seems to be of
sufficient importance to warrant trespassing upon
the reader's patience by calling attention again and
again to the situation as it was in the early days of
the colonial life of New England, and particularly
of the Plymouth Colony. And, in this connection,
no sketch of Massasoit would be quite complete
without a brief reference to the fact that in his
earlier days, he had been a great war chief himself,
or at least the head of a federation capable of hold-
ing its own against the tribes that were undoubtedly
attempting from time to time to make inroads upon
its hunting grounds; for we have it from Captain
Benjamin Church, who was General Winslow's chief



MASSASOIT 99

of staff in King Philip's war, that Annawon, Philip's
great captain, after his capture, boasted of his
former prowess and deeds of valor when serving
under Philip's father. I use the expression, a great
war chief himself or the head of a powerful federa-
tion, advisedly, for it seems to be clearly estab-
lished that the Great Sachem, or Chief of Chiefs,
of the Indian federations, while the head of the civil
government, was not always the personal leader of
his warriors in battle, that duty sometimes devolv-
ing upon some great captain who had distinguished
himself by his valor, cunning and capacity for in-
spiring and handling large bodies of warriors. To
such a captain was frequently entrusted the con-
duct or personal direction of the wars after a plan of
campaign had been agreed upon in a council, in-
cluding all the chiefs and sagamores together with
the select body or class called ^'paniese" who were
the chief men of valor. This seems particularly to
have been the practice among the Five Nations of
the Iroquois League, and was probably the occa-
sional practice with the other federations, although
a careful perusal of such records as are available
leads to the conclusion that the Great Sachem him-
self in most instances personally conducted his cam-
paigns. We do not have to look far for a reason for
this. From our knowledge of Indian character, we
may well infer that the Great Chiefs would be ex-
tremely reluctant to relinquish the control of their
warriors to a sub-chief or captain through fear of
loss of their own prestige and the acquisition of too
great an ascendency on the part of their captains,



100 MASSASOIT

prowess on the warpath being the one quaHfication
that would appeal most strongly to the Indian tem-
perament and endear a chief to his people, thus
strengthening his hold upon them. Consequently
we may safely conclude that before he had been
weakened by the loss of his people through the
ravages of the pestilence of 1616-1617, and the
raids of the Tarratines upon his outlying tribes,
Massasoit was himself a noted warrior. Through
the agencies enumerated his war strength had been
reduced from three thousand or five thousand war-
riors, there being authority for both figures, to prob-
ably one thousand or twelve hundred, not counting
the Nipmucks, who were most likely governed as
conquered tribes, and of doubtful value in war.
That they were not of the closely allied or related
tribes, but were looked upon as inferiors, is fairly
apparent from Massasoit 's remark to Roger Wil-
liams, as quoted by him in his letter to Governor
Winthrop of Plymouth, which will appear later. I
cannot refrain from expressing the belief that my
estimate as given above of one thousand or more is
fair; and in this connection, I will take the liberty
of digressing again from the subject of this chapter
to make another of those little side trips into terri-
tory that ought, perhaps, to have been explored
when we were inquiring into the numerical strength
of the Wampanoags, but an examination of which is
timely in connection with what I have just said,
and in the consideration of Massasoit's readiness to
treat with the colonists and the importance to them
of that friendly disposition.



MASSASOIT 101

At the time of Canonicus' challenge to the settlers
in November, 1621, Bradford, for some reason,
came to the conclusion that it was his desire to
"lord it over the weaker Pokanokets and Massa-
chusetts"; and, from what we know of that wily
and ambitious chief, we may well believe that Brad-
ford's suspicion, even if it was nothing more than
that, was well founded. The Narragansetts had
escaped the ravages of the pestilence, and Canonicus,
taking advantage of his neighbor's weakness, had be-
gun an offensive warfare against Massasoit, and had
wrested from him the Island of Aquidnick. This
probably could be accompUshed only by force; but
the encounter is likely to have been limited to the
occupants of the island, with possibly such assist-
ance as could be hurried to them from tribes in
close proximity. The wars among the natives were
undoubtedly of short duration, a single combat
sometimes deciding the issue, and it might well
happen that Canonicus could muster his warriors in
sufficient force to conquer the island before any
assistance could reach its people, and to hold it
against any attempts of the weakened Wampanoags
to retake it. According to the best authorities,
from three to four thousand warriors stood ready
to take up the War Cry of Canonicus at that time
and to pass it along from village to village, hke
Rhoderick Dhu's summons to Clan Alpine. If he
was as ambitious to extend his domain and power
as some writers think, and as his attack upon the
island seems to indicate, it is inconceivable that he
should have refrained from further conquest if the



102 MASSASOIT

Wampanoags, Massachusetts and Pawtuckets, or
Pennacooks, were as weak as some writers seem to
think, Drake placing the strength of the Paw-
tuckets at that time at two hundred and fifty souls,
not warriors but all combined, and another writer
saying that the Massachusetts were the weakest of
all the three federations.

It is true that the Pequots at some earlier date
had subjugated the Mohicans, Niantics and other
minor tribes in Connecticut and had settled down
upon the land contiguous to that of the Narragan-
setts on the west; and that the bitterest hostility
existed between these two tribes or federations; but
they seem to have been at peace at this time; and
from our reading of the records of dissensions be-
tween the Pequots and the conquered tribes which
they evidently were trying to join to themselves, we
may well believe that they were then bending all
their energy to the task of consolidating the con-
quered territory, a task at which they were never
entirely successful. However much the Narra-
gansetts may have feared attempts at further con-
quests on the part of the Pequots, there is no
evidence of any Pequot aggressions against them at
that time; and it is more than likely that the hos-
tility of later days was first manifested by the Nar-
ragansetts themselves, being aroused in part at least
by the raid of the Pequots upon the hunting grounds
of the Niantics and the Mohicans, the former of
whom were more closely related to the Narragan-
setts than either of them were to the Pequots; and



MASSASOIT 103

the Mohicans not being held in such dread as were
their conquerors.

So the fear of Pequot invasion may be eliminated
as a possible deterrent to further Narragansett
aggression against the Wampanoags, and we are
compelled to look for another reason for Canonicus'
failure to follow up his seizure of Aquidnick. There
seems but one logical conclusion, and that is that
the Wampanoag strength on the mainland, where
the destruction of a few villages would result only in
driving their occupants back upon the inland tribes
by which they would be constantly augmented was
sufficient to hold Canonicus in check.

These reflections lead us directly to a considera-
tion of Massasoit's purpose in approaching the Eng-
lish with the olive branch of peace. Any suggestion
that he did it from purely disinterested motives
would be a reflection upon his sagacity. That he
was running counter to the wishes of his most
powerful sub-sachem, Corbitant of Pocasset, is
clearly established, and it is inconceivable that he
voluntarily trailed to Plymouth for the purpose of
giving up something for nothing. On the other
hand, he knew enough about the English not to
expect something for nothing from them. The ter-
ritory of his own tribes had been invaded by Har-
low and Hunt, who had carried away many of his
people, some to be sold into slavery, and others to
be held in virtual slavery to those who desired to
utilize them in further trade amongf^the tribes.
Squanto had returned, and, of course, had related
his experiences; and Massasoit must have known



104 MASSASOIT

of similar outrages perpetrated upon other tribes
along the New England coast. Virginia Baker in
her excellent little book, ''Massasoit's Town of So-
wams in Pokanoket," speaks of him as wise states-
man and shrewd politician; and it is in this character
that we are impelled, by a consideration of his acts,
to look upon him. Squanto's account of what he
had seen in England where he had spent much
time and had been kindly treated must have seemed
to his simple listeners like tales from the ''Arabian
Nights." Massasoit had heard his story and had
been impressed by it; and, when he learned that
voyagers from that wonderful land had settled upon
his territory, he went to them, not to surrender any
portion of his sovereignty, but as a king to treat
with the representatives of a king. There was no
thought of submission or subjection. He came to
ascertain the purpose of their visit and their inten-
tions, and when he learned that they contemplated
a permanent settlement, he sat down with them to
discuss terms on which they might live side by side
in perfect harmony.

The memorable treaty was the outcome of this
conference, and under it he accomplished his pur-
pose as long as the men who were parties to it lived
and kept a controlling hand on the affairs of the
colony. It was not encroachments by Carver,
Bradford, Winslow and their associates, who knew
him in the early days, that caused the breach and
little by little widened it until nothing short of the
resort to arms could settle the differences between
the two races, but the unjust suspicions, followed



MASSASOIT 105

by the arbitrary conduct and petty acts of annoy-
ance of a later generation. The ambitious designs
of the colonists, when they had attained sufficient
strength to walk alone, led them to attempt to
govern the Indians as subjects, to order them about
at will, to interfere in their most intimate tribal
affairs, to take jurisdiction of matters that ought to
have been left to tribal councils, instead of treating
them as an independent and politically equal people.
It was this conduct on the part of the whites that
broke the chain of friendship and plunged the colo-
nists into war with the sons of the men who had
befriended them at a time when that friendship was
a matter of life or death to them; a war that cost
the colonists thousands of lives that might have
been saved by a little tolerance and a sense of jus-
tice, and that resulted in the extermination of a
once proud and powerful people.

This fatal ending of a friendship so auspiciously
begun cannot justly be charged to Massasoit, nor
entirely to his sons and successors. The history of
the times has been written by the colonists. The
Indian has left no chronicle of the events that
finally impelled him to dig up the tomahawk. It
is by the white man's records that both must be
judged; and those records convict the colonists of a
series of aggressions of sufficient seriousness to arouse
the ire and stir the blood of any people who had been
accustomed to range the forests and fish the streams
in untrammeled freedom until the white man cun-
ningly forged the fetters for their free born feet.

Massasoit entered into the treaty in entire good



106 MASSASOIT

faith, and with a fixed determination to observe it
in spirit and in letter, as is conclusively shown by
the several acts to which I shall call particular at-
tention, by his overlooking its breach by the Eng-
lish in refusing to surrender Squanto, and by the
fact that the treaty was never broken by him or his
people during the forty years of his life after its
signing, nor during the short reign of his eldest son
and successor, Wamsutta, nor indeed during the
first thirteen years of the rule of his second son
Pometacom; although ther^^were rumblings of the
approaching tempest from 1671. Indeed, the colo-
nists tried to find evidence of bad faith on the part
of Wamsutta ten years before, but the most they
did was to establish their own bad faith in spite of
their efforts to cover it with the cloud of suspicion
against him. A further consideration of the affair
with that great chief will appear when we come to
a survey of his short term in his chieftaincy; so
I shall dismiss it for the present with the reflection
that some acts on the part of the whites during
the period which we are considering, as recorded by
themselves, are enough to raise the question whether
they were not guilty of a deliberate attempt to so
arouse and exasperate the natives, as to lead them
to acts of open hostility to be seized upon as an
excuse for exterminating the race. I am aware that
this is a serious indictment, but it is supported by
a series of aggressions that seem inexplicable on
any other theory than that they were deliberately
planned, or were perpetrated with reckless disregard
for the rights of the Indians.



MASSASOIT 107

Massasoit, as I have said, entered into the pact
with Governor Carver in good faith. He was ac-
customed to deahng with men whose only bond was
their word, with the simple natives, ''silly savages,"
as Captain Smith calls them, unaccustomed to the
arts of civilization and the trick of trying to find
excuses for breaking their pledges, instead of studi-
ously endeavoring to obesrve them, both in letter
and in spirit; and he then had no reason for sup-
posing that the EngUsh were less sincere, or that
they entered into the relations defined in the pact
with the intent to observe it only in so far as it
served their purpose, or as long as it was useful to
them. This was one of the lessons in the higher
European civilization that they learned in the bitter
school of experience; and the men who taught them
this code of morals had no right to complain when
the results of their teaching reacted upon them-
selves. I am reluctant to believe that Carver then
looked upon his treaty in that light; but we find
his immediate successor, Bradford, recording the
fact that he, as early as 1622 in the episode arising


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